[Edling] Video: Imagining Multilingual TESOL Revisited: Where are we now?

Francis Hult francis.hult at englund.lu.se
Wed Mar 27 11:00:36 EDT 2019

Imagining Multilingual TESOL Revisited: Where are we now?

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

At TESOL 2008 I asked: “What can TESOL do in order not to participate in crimes against humanity? What is TESOL doing?” Read my short conclusion from 2008. I could just repeat it, because my reply now, in 2019, is: “In practice, there has been very little change”. What I say will be a shock to many of you. Reflect hard on the message before you shoot the messanger. Remember that this almost 80 years old messenger has researched, and reflected on this for a life-time. Teaching and learning English is part and parcel of formal education that should support children in increasingly many parts of the world to become minimally bilingual, preferably multilingual. If TESOL only supports the English part of this multilingualism, you may and mostly are participating in linguistic and cultural genocide. I am here concerned with ITM children. ITM stands for Indigenous/Tribal, Minority and Minoritized/Marginalized children; this also includes immigrant and refugee minorities. According to UNESCO, 2019, around 40% of the children who attend elementary school in the world (and many don’t) are not taught in a language that they understand. This language that they do NOT understand, if often, but of course not always, English. What does solid research, and educational, linguistic, pedagogical, psychological, sociological and political science argumentation tell us? If ITM children are educated using a dominant language such as English, as the main teaching language, in a submersion or even early-exit transitional programme, this prevents access to education because of the linguistic, pedagogical and psychological barriers it creates. Thus it violates the human right to education.


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